Norfolk Southern gifts locomotive to support Penn State Altoona program curriculum

Local News

ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — Penn State Altoona has received an in-kind gift from Norfolk Southern that will enhance the college’s Rail Transportation Engineering (RTE) program curriculum.

The gift is a SD60i freight locomotive originally built by General Motors for Conrail in 1995. Norfolk Southern took ownership of the locomotive in 1999 and has now gifted it to Penn State Altoona with the unit number: “PSU 2020.”

Although the diesel electric locomotive will not be operational, it will be used to teach students about locomotive parts, where components are located, and how they fit together. In the Railroad Operations & Safety course, students will learn about the basics of controls in the cab of the locomotive and learn to identify major locomotive components.

The locomotive is to our RTE students as a cadaver is to medical students. Our students will get to really roll up their sleeves and learn the inner workings of a diesel electric locomotive. I don’t know of any university in the country that can offer this type of in-depth education in locomotive function and design.

Bryan Schlake, Assistant Teaching Professor in Rail Transportation Engineering

Additionally, various electro-mechanical engineering technology courses and independent study courses could benefit from using the locomotive. Schlake says there are also opportunities for outreach with the SD60i including developing K-12 educational videos and tours of the locomotive during future engineering summer camps.

Philip Merilli, the retired vice president of engineering for Norfolk Southern, fourth-generation railroader from Altoona and a Penn State alumnus, says it has been an honor to be part of the RTE program at Penn State Altoona through its advisory board.

When the opportunity arose to further support the program with a locomotive for learning, I was happy I could make the connections necessary to enable it. There is no doubt that this donation will lead to more opportunities for future railroad engineers to be better equipped to enter and advance the industry.”

Philip Merilli

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February 07 2021 06:30 pm

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